French President Francois Hollande called on delegates to tackle climate change ahead of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP21, to be held in Paris in December 2015.
COP21 is seen as a crucial meeting which needs to reach a new international agreement on climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
"Action on climate change is action for growth. Action for climate change is action for social justice. It’s action for workers’ right."
Hollande stressed the imperative of global funds of up to $ 100 million per year from 2020 in order to finance the fight against climate change.
"We need a global agreement, differentiated and compelling."
ILO research says the transition to a green economy could generate 60 million jobs over the next 20 years and would help lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty.
Hollande warned against doing nothing.
"If we do nothing, we could have job losses, unemployment and deterioration of living standards."
The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi also addressed the summit and linked climate change to increased child trafficking and forced labour.
He warned that loss of livelihoods and migration to urban areas follows both natural disasters and changing weather patterns, creating conditions for increased child trafficking. He cited the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal and the Kosi floods in Bihar, India, in 2008, as places where he had seen these conditions.
“And if the weather is disrupted, in terms of rains, in terms of other kinds of other kinds of things—floods—then the children are the worst victims.”
He called on governments to adopt a child-friendly approach towards disaster management.
Satyarthi told delegates that while the numbers in child labour had fallen to about 168 million, child trafficking and slavery was not decreasing.
Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela, raised the goal of turning Panama into a model of sustainable development in the Americas, where economic growth and social welfare go hand in hand.
The morning session of the summit hosted an exchange between delegates and panellists. Topics included the crucial role of social dialogue between employers, workers and government and the issues surrounding technology transfers between developed and emerging countries.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder reminded delegates that sound labour policies and practices go together with decent work.
“The world of work can contribute and contribute significantly to tackling climate change in key areas such as energy, buildings, industry, transport, agriculture or tourism. New skills will be critical as will be new workplace practices. The greening of enterprises and stimulating the development of sustainable enterprises in emerging green sectors will be fundamental. Innovative approaches to social protection are going to be needed to help the vulnerable to cope with the impact of climate change.”
Reporting for the ILO at the Palais des Nations, this is Carla Drysdale.